WASHINGTON (AP) — A Michigan member of the Republican National Committee rejected calls to resign Friday after making anti-gay and anti-Muslim remarks.
Dave Agema said he's made mistakes but pledged to continue to "honor the trust and fulfill the responsibilities to those in the Michigan Republican Party that elected me."
He issued a statement hours after RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and Michigan Party Chairman Bobby Schostak called for his resignation.
"For the good of the party, we believe Dave Agema should resign," Preibus and Schostak said in a joint statement.
Last March, Agema posted an article on Facebook with an unsubstantiated claim that gays account for half the murders in large cities. In December, he told Berrien County Republicans that his experience as an American Airlines pilot made him familiar with efforts by gays to get health insurance coverage because of the ravages of AIDS.
He also came under fire from the Council on American-Islamic Relations for a Facebook posting this month questioning Muslims' commitment to charity.
A number of leading Democrats and several Republican members of Michigan's congressional delegation already have called on him to resign.
"I acknowledge errors in judgment and how I addressed them, feel badly about the impact this has had on many here in the land I love, and have learned valuable lessons about the requirements and responsibilities that are to be expected and honored by all who are in leadership positions, including myself," Agema said.
He said he appreciates the "charitable efforts" of Muslim-Americans and apologizes for posting an article on Facebook "that has been re-quoted as my words."
The controversy comes as Republican officials from across the country gathered in Washington for the RNC's winter meeting. GOP leaders are particularly focused on broadening the party's appeal to younger voters and minorities.
Agema did not attend the Washington meeting. In an earlier statement, he said his "liberal critics" would use his attendance as an excuse "for a drawn-out fight between liberals and conservatives within the party."
GOP Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land, Michigan's other RNC member elected at a state convention, on Friday said in a statement that Agema should resign. She had previously expressed disagreement with Agema but had not asked him publicly to step down until Priebus and Schostak weighed in.
Republican strategist Dennis Lennox, a leader in the coalition to push Agema out, said Priebus' action "sends the message that Republicans have learned their lesson on tone and messaging."
"The last thing Republicans need to be talking about is KKK rhetoric," Lennox said.
White reported from Detroit. Associated Press writers Thomas Beaumont in Washington and David Eggert in Lansing, Mich., contributed to this report.